Do you sometimes wake up in the morning and get a sore jaw or neck pain? Perhaps you didn’t sleep in a good position at night or, there is a possibility that you are clenching your teeth when you are sleeping. Teeth clenching or teeth grinding is a condition called bruxism. Bruxism occurs when you unconsciously clench your teeth when you’re awake or even when you are asleep.
Bruxism may seem common and most people assume immediately that there is nothing more than minor discomfort. Well, it can be but grinding your teeth on a regular basis is not a good sign at all. People suffering from bruxism may be required to wear mouth guards as they have a higher risk of tooth cracking and bone loss around the root of the teeth. Bruxism can be caused by several things such as stress, medications, family history and age (they are usually common in young children).
So, how do you stop clenching your teeth and save your teeth from getting damaged? Here are some tips for you:
- Reduce stress
Bruxism occurs when you are stressed or having anxiety attacks, so make sure you stay away from things that give you stress. Step away from work, especially when it starts to stress you out; unwind by going to places that can relax you or bring you joy. You can also do light exercise or meditate before going to bed. Taking a warm bath before going to bed also helps in relaxing your jaw muscles; thus, minimize the symptoms of Bruxism.
- Wear a mouthguard
A mouthguard is a protective device worn over your teeth while sleeping at night. This may not stop you from clenching your teeth, but it can protect your teeth against grinding towards each other. You can talk to your dentist so he or she can make one that is customized to your size and preferences.
- Avoid coffee and alcoholic beverages
Coffee and alcohol are stimulants that promote grinding and clenching especially when taken in the evening. The caffeine in coffee and sugar in alcoholic beverages not only intensifies the symptoms of Bruxism but also affects the quality of your sleep. Other stimulants that you should avoid when you have Bruxism include chocolate, tea, soda, and liquor.
- Dental procedures
If you have misaligned teeth, then more often than not, you also experience clenching and grinding of teeth while sleeping. Your dentist may suggest correcting your bite and the alignment of your teeth with orthodontics, braces, or reconstructive procedures such as crowns and overlays.
- Muscle relaxant
A muscle relaxant is prescribed to individuals with severe Bruxism. It is taken at night before going to bed to help relax your jaw and stop it from clenching throughout the night. However, muscle relaxants should only be taken with your physician’s prescription as it can cause dependency.
Teeth clenching or bruxism is common, but it should be treated early to avoid serious dental problems and complications in the future.